Florida voters revolt against insulting ballot questions
The Kansas City Star
If you live in Missouri and had trouble wading through the ballot with all those questions at the end, take heart. Voters in other states had it worse.
Case in point — Florida. Those long lines and delay in figuring out who won the presidential race weren’t caused by still-undecided voters agonizing between Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan. They were caused by the need to wade through – count ‘em – 11 constitutional amendments, placed on the ballot by a Republican-dominated legislature carried away with its own importance. (Sound familiar?)
There was the obligatory anti-Obamacare amendment, defiantly stating that no citizens of the state of Florida can be compelled to participate in the Affordable Care Act or purchase health insurance. Missouri is way ahead in this respect, having passed almost an identical ballot issue two years ago.
There was an amendment to restrict how much the state can collect in taxes. And an amendment giving the Senate authority to confirm appointees to the state supreme court. And an amendment further limiting access to abortion, of course. And another to give additional tax breaks to businesses.
Pretty much a boilerplate agenda of Republican-controlled state legislatures these days. And here’s the great part. Florida voters rejected nearly all of it.
The only amendments to survive were those giving property-tax breaks to low-income seniors, disabled veterans and spouses of veterans and first responders killed in the line of duty. Eight other amendments bit the dust. A constitutional amendment in Florida requires 60 percent of the vote. The anti-Obamacare question drew only 48 percent. The judicial amendment mustered just 37 percent, and the measure to further limit abortion rights gained only 45 percent.
Naturally, there is discussion in Florida as to what went wrong. Or right, depending on one’s perspective.
I for one like the explanation that the incoming Senate president, a Republican, offered to the Orlando Sentinel.
“I don’t think you can draw a clear inference other than to say conservatives and liberals…are sick and tired of a constitution that more resembles the book of Leviticus than the U.S. Constitution,” said Don Gaetz, of Niceville, Fla.
In Missouri, ballot questions authorized by the state legislature met with a mixed fate. The bad idea to give the governor undue power to select judges got clobbered, gaining only 24 percent of the vote. On the other hand, the bad idea to limit the governor’s authority to work on state health insurance exchanges passed with 62 percent of the vote.
So Missouri voters haven’t hit the Florida disgust threshold yet. But there’s hope.